Saturday, December 01, 2007

What does the title of the Pope's new encyclical mean in English?

The Pope's new encyclical is out. It is called "Spe Salvi". I have noticed quite a plethora of translations of this phrase being bandied about. So far, we've got these:
  • "Saved by Hope"
  • "In Hope we were Saved"
  • "Saved in Hope"
  • "On Christian Hope"
  • "Saved by Hope"
  • "Saved in Hope"
  • "Saved in Faith"
  • "Salvation Thanks to Hope"
Well, which is it? All by itself, it would appear to mean something close to "In the hope of salvation" or "With the hope of salvation". The word spe is the ablative form of spes, which means hope. The ablative is a sort of prepositional case and indicates by, with, from, or in. The word salvi is the genitive (or possessive) form of salvus, the adjective saved.

But it is apparently a shortened version of Romans 8:24 in the Latin Vulgate, which reads "Spe enim salvi facti sumus", which means, "For (enim) we were saved (salvi facti sumus) by hope (spe)." The form of salvi makes much more sense in the context of the sentence. It appears that some of these translations are translating this whole phrase from Romans.

2 comments:

Hannah J said...

The ablative in Latin is unfortunately more than a little ambiguous (I've had two years in high school; my younger brother is in his second year). I suppose it proves (ahem! demonstrates!) that Latin ain't so dead. Great blog. You're now on my blogroll.

Martin Cothran said...

Thanks!